Sequence of Events:
07/04/97 16:32:28 Cruise Stage Separation 8500 km from Surface of Mars
In the above picture the royal blue surface is the solar panel that provides Pathfinder with electricity while on route to Mars. Near the outer edge of the solar panel is visible one of the hydrazine propellant attitude control thrusters used to make corrections to Pathfinder's trajectory. These systems together with a thermal control system form the major components of the cruise stage. The silver surface beneith the solar cells is the top of the cone shaped entry capsule, similar in design to the Apollo capsules that safely brought men back from the Moon. At "cruise stage separation", pyrotechnics are used to sever the lines and fasteners that attach the cruise stage to the entry capsule.
Schematic of Cruise Stage: